PhD candidate Shahrzad Nikghadam
“I’m developing a simulation model that helps port policy makers and managers with their decision making about improving the performance of the Port of Rotterdam.”(Photo: Shahrzad Nikghadam)

Working with the Port of Rotterdam has been a fascinating learning experience for Shahrzad Nikghadam. She’s looking forward to seeing her model put into practice.

“I am from Iran and I did my bachelor’s in industrial engineering and a master’s in mechanical engineering. Now I am a PhD candidate in the Transport & Logistics group at the Faculty of Technology, Policy & Management. I’m developing a simulation model that helps port policy makers and managers with their decision making about improving the performance of the Port of Rotterdam. In reality, it’s risky to test different scenarios by implementing them in practice – for the safety of the port, for the vessels, it’s costly, and inefficient in terms of time. It’s basically impossible. The simulation creates a lab environment that helps to make the best decisions before execution.

‘The topic may sound a bit far from what I studied before’

The topic may sound a bit far from what I studied before. The first time that I read the advertisement for the position here, the description explained the port processes and the necessity for the activities to be followed one after the other in synchronisation. As I was reading through the description, I was telling myself this is like a factory, isn’t it? It is similar to a production line where the processes have to be followed in order. It’s the same design on a much bigger scale. Then, I thought I have learned the tools and techniques in industrial engineering and manufacturing engineering, curriculums which could help me to contribute to the topic in my own way.  

It has been fascinating for me to be able to learn about port processes by working with the biggest port in Europe. After the PhD, I would very much like to continue working on port related subjects because I look forward to seeing what I have developed in my PhD actually being used in practice. I am excited to witness the moment in a couple of years when the ports put the simulation model that I have developed into action.”

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